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Friday, January 30, 2009

Five-Grain Bread

Here's the recipe for the bread I taught at the Cooking for Charity class this week...

Five-Grain Bread
Makes 3 hearth loaves, about 1 ½ lbs. each

This is a crusty loaf with a substantial proportion of whole grain (the whole grain flours and the grains in the soaker make up 42% of the total flour weight), yet it is a light loaf, great for sandwiches and toast and delicious alongside a hearty soup or stew. The sponge and soaker are best made the day before you plan to bake. See note below for a quicker option.

For the sponge:
Whisk together in a large bowl:
1 ½ cups (7 ounces) whole wheat flour (I use hard white wheat flour)
1/3 cup (1 ½ ounces) whole rye flour
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) firmly packed brown sugar
¼ ounce instant yeast (1 package Red Star Quick Rise yeast)
2 cups (16 ounces) room temperature water

When all the ingredients are thoroughly blended, cover the bowl tightly and let ferment at room temperature for one hour, then refrigerate overnight.

For the soaker:
In a small bowl combine:
1/3 cup (2 ounces) flaxseeds
¼ cup ( ½ ounce) bran flakes
1/3 cup (1 ½ ounces) yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup (2 ¼ ounces) rolled oats
2 cups (16 ounces) room temperature water
Cover tightly to prevent evaporation and let stand overnight.

For the dough (the next day):

Add the soaker to the sponge in the large bowl or combine both in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer with dough hook. Blend well and then add in :
1 tablespoon salt (5/8 ounce or 17 grams)
3 ¾ to 4 ½ cups (1# 4 oz. to 1# 10 oz. unbleached bread flour (Gold Medal Better for Bread)

The amount of flour is variable. Add enough so that the dough is slightly tacky (feels like you're touching a Post-it note) but not sticky (wants to cling to your finger but doesn't). Knead by hand or machine until the dough passes the membrane or windowpane test. Check by taking a small piece of dough with floured fingers and trying to stretch it out until it is transparent. When the gluten is fully developed, you should be able to do this without tearing the dough. If it tears easily keep kneading!

When the dough is fully developed, place it in a large greased bowl, cover and let rise (bulk ferment) at room temperature for a total of 2 to 2 ½ hours. After one hour, gently deflate the dough by turning it out onto a lightly floured surface, fold the top down, the bottom up and each of the sides in toward the center, then turn over and place it back in the bowl. Spray the top lightly with oil to keep it from drying out, cover tightly and let rise for the remaining time, until doubled in bulk and your floured finger leaves a hole that does not fill in.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 equal pieces. Shape into rounds and place each loaf seam side up in a parchment-lined or well-floured, cloth-lined basket or bowl. (If you are using the Dutch oven method you will want to use parchment and place the loaf seam side down as it is difficult to invert the loaf into the hot pan without deflating it.) Spray lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. After one hour, you may retard one or more of the loaves in the refrigerator overnight and bake them the next day.

30 to 45 minutes before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

For the Dutch oven method: Place the Dutch oven with the lid on it in the oven to preheat for at least 30 minutes. When ready to bake, carefully remove it from the oven, remove the lid, transfer the loaf along with the parchment to the Dutch oven, slash the top of the loaf, place the lid on and return to the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 25 minutes (30 if the loaf has been refrigerated.) Remove the lid and continue baking another 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. It should reach at least 200 degrees in the center of the loaf. Cool on a wire rack before slicing or eating.

For the cloche method: Place the cloche (no need to soak) on a baking stone in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes. When ready to bake, remove the cloche from the oven, transfer the slashed loaf to a peel (or the back of a baking sheet) you have sprinkled with semolina or cornmeal and slide it onto the stone. Immediately cover with the clay cloche, reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 25 minutes (30 if the loaf has been refrigerated). Uncover the loaf and continue baking another 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. It should reach at least 200 degrees in the center of the loaf. Cool on a wire rack before slicing or eating.

Note: Use the overnight method for best flavor. If you're in a real hurry you can use boiling water for the soaker and let it cool while the sponge ferments for one hour at room temperature. Then proceed with mixing instructions.

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